As I’m currently on the short road to forty, birthday is a little more than two weeks away (!!), college seems like a life time ago. The memories are fond but seem distant which is a part of getting older I suppose. You remember the moments that shaped your life but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel like it was an entirely different life or time. A time where Thirsty Thursday was a thing and you would go to class hungover or wearing yellow-tinted sunglasses during an open book test because you couldn’t wash off the hooker makeup from the Halloween party the night before. A time where bathrobes, Berserk anime, and video games wasn’t just a way of life but a code for the suite you lived in. A time where people knew me by my nickname, Chevy, not my first name. A time where I had thought I chose my life’s path only to find out it didn’t pan out… like, at all.
Amidst all the alcohol, cliché marijuana smoke, studies, and good times there was The Matrix, a franchise that seems like it was built toward the college stoner demographic. I’m not saying I was a stoner, I certainly partook plenty, but I will say that there was a night where my buddy Tom and I solved the riddle of The Matrix and found the meaning of life… only to forget what we discovered once the morning came. Talk about a glitch in the Matrix but it didn’t prevent our countless re-watches and discussions. It didn’t prevent us from having at least one Matrix poster in the suite. Again, very cliché but on-brand for the time.
The Matrix was a way of life back during the college years and the years that followed. I remember the summer before Reloaded came out and reading a Matrix and philosophy book which was a collection of essays breaking down religion, philosophy, and a million other things within the Matrix. Was quite the read. I dove head first into the Matrix anime looking for further expansion of this universe. My roommates and I went to the midnight screening of Revolutions, back when movies actually came out at midnight on Thursdays and when I was young enough to stay awake for them.
I loved The Matrix.
But as time went on, I found myself revisiting the films less and less. Maybe there was an abundance of other things to consume my time, maybe I out grew them, maybe I distanced myself from some of the acting in the sequels that made me cringe, maybe it was all of the above. For whatever reason, it has been a minute since I last watched The Matrix movies. So, when a fourth film was announced I was kind of like, why?
The story felt complete and the returns of Neo and Trinity befuddled me as much as forgetting a whole conversation a few hours after having it did (#toohightoremember). It felt like bringing back a property to cash in on the nostalgia, something that’s been happening a lot lately, and I was iffy on it. It seems like I pick and choose what nostalgia returns make me happen. Case and point, the Masters of the Universe revival on Netflix. The Matrix though, ruffled my feathers.
Something changed over the last month or so though. Maybe it has to do with our obsession with Keanu Reeves, a national treasure if there ever was one. Maybe it was watching Dark and hearing the “glitch in the Matrix” quote over and over again. Maybe it’s the world we live in feels more and more like a simulation or maybe we hope it is (?). But suddenly, I was coming very much around on a fourth Matrix film. The reactions to the footage shown at Cinema-Con only upped that unexpected excitement.
I was ready to go back to The Matrix and this week’s trailer announcement, the interactive website (whatisthematrix.com), and the images that poured out of it, had me counting down the hours until we got our first glimpse of the new film.
That countdown is now over…
When I first heard about Keanu Reeves returning to the Matrix I thought it would be in a limited capacity, almost like a passing of the torch. You know, because Neo went full Jesus and sacrificed himself to the robot gods so we could have free will and live on. Noo Jesus story could be complete without a resurrection it seems which is probably why this fourth film is titled, Matrix: Resurrection. At least, part of the reason.
It certainly seems like this film is going to be centered on Neo, doing his best John Wick cosplay, and his reassertion into the Matrix simulation? Which in turn, raises a number of questions that start with how and somehow also end with how.
While the film looks stunning with its visuals and atmosphere, there are definitely familiar beats afoot. Remember how The Force Awakens basically felt like A New Hope? I’m getting those same vibes here with Resurrections feeling a lot like the original Matrix film, but it also feels intentional to the story. They want this to feel familiar like we’ve lived it before because it’s like déjà vu, that black cat, a glitch in the Matrix. Which is exciting when you think about it. The idea of the Matrix is such a meta-commentary on the world we live in, it would make sense for this fourth film to feel very immersive.
Clearly, at some point Thomas is going to remember he’s Neo and Trinity is going to remember she’s Trinity. What this means for the story, I don’t know. Both of those characters are very much dead leading me to believe that they are now, along with young Morpheus, programs within the Matrix. Much like the Agents who steal people’s bodies so they can shoot people quicker. This creates an interesting question though if the One becomes a program instead of an anomaly, is he still the One? Or does his oneness overwrite his programness kind of like Agent Smith becoming the virus that destroyed the Matrix program. Why would the machines even build him into the system if that was the case?! Are they trying to get ahead of the anomaly within a new Matrix? Did the Oracle demand it? Seems like a recipe for disaster for the machines unless they believed by making him a program they can now control the One. The trailer would suggest otherwise though. Neo going to Neo.
What about Morpheus?! My buddy TJ informed me that the Matrix Online game is supposedly canon and in that story, Morpheus died trying to recover Neo and Trinity’s bodies from the machines. Is this why we have young Morpheus in the trailer? Was a younger version created to be a program within the Matrix offering people salvation from the simulation? Why would the machines even want that? Unless…hear me out.
Isn’t this supposed to be a time of peace? Neo sacrificed himself to end the war and save humanity. Did something happen to re-light those fires? People are going to people after all. Yay free will! Or is this a situation where these characters are living in a simulation within a simulation? A Matrix within the Matrix (insert nose bleed here). Again, why? Why would the machines create this? Did the machines create it? Did humanity create a dual simulation where they could revolt? Something like the Second Life game Dwight plays in The Office. Seems exhausting but also on-brand for humanity.
Besides all the questions this trailer felt very much like The Matrix or maybe more like The Matrix we know is hiding under the surface and we can just put our fingers through liquid mirrors everything would come into focus. Take the red pill and head back to a franchise we know and love, take the blue pill and see the simulation that’s trying to bury it? I don’t know. I don’t have answers. We’re not supposed to have answers. I want them though. I want to know why Neo needs to learn kung-fu again but still has the powers of the One. I want to know why Trinity looks like she’s in one of the machine people harvest tubes. I want to know why we get young Morpheus besides the obvious reasons that Laurence Fishburne wasn’t available.
I want to know what is the Matrix… and come December, I can’t wait to find out.